FICUS KERKHOVENII  Valeton (1906)                                     SECTION CONOSYCEAE

Latin: Honors the name of Augustus Kerkhoven (1858-1924) a member of a wealthy dutch plantation owing family in Java (Gambung Estate) near Bogor.

Plant: Very large strangler (to 45 m) confined to primary forest in the lowlands. At Gng Palung the largest strangler with numerous prop roots and flying buttresses (Laman & Weiblen). The strangling roots often form a sort of  “knee”  around the base of the tree, when the tree is free standing. Sex: Dioecious.

Leaves: Medium size oblong leaves 6-18 cm long by 2-8cm wide with a long petiole up to 4 cm long. The unusual “weak” basal veins are distinctive compared with other Conosycea stranglers.

Fig:  Medium sized fig 0.8-1.2cm, round or almost round (sub-globose), sessile (without stalk) ripening green to yellow to orange to red to purple.

Similar species: May be confused with several similar Section Conosycea stranglers.

Distinguish: (1) The basal side veins on the leaf are “weak” i.e. poorly defined, often not opposite each other and often with a single small basal vein below the main pair (Berg 2005).

(2) One of the three basal bracts on the fig is usually much smaller than the others (Laman & Weiblen 1998)

Distribution: Widespread but generally scarce in lowland forests throughout Borneo. Recorded from Poring but otherwise no records from Kinabalu. At Gng Palung in W. Kalimantan Laman & Weiblen recorded that this fig was uncommon in freshwater swamp but common in alluvial bench forest through to lowland granite. At Lambir it is the third commonest strangler with 11 individuals in the 52 ha plot. Sabah:  The most common large strangler at Maliau with two very large individuals on the main road near the Maliau Study Centre. Brunei: Brunei river,  Temada, Wasai BedanuSarawak: Sg Batu, Lundu. Kalimantan: Gng Palung-common. Sengatta-Kutai-common. There are no records from central and south Kalimantan.

Range: Prefers wet rainforest and unlikely to be found in open countryside in contrast to Ficus drupacea which has the opposite habits. A Sundaland endemic  recorded from  Malaya, Sumatra and Borneo. In Singapore listed as critically endangered. There are several fine examples in the Singapore Botanic Gardens including one at Tai Chi Plaza and another very large example in the rain forest area.

IMG_0967 - Copy.JPG
Note the “weak basal veins. All photos are of a F. kerkhovenii in  the Singapore Botanic Gardens.


A group of Singaporeans enjoying Tai Chi exercises underneath  a fine Ficus kerkhovenii in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.